Determining the correct move feels a little like navigating a labyrinth: so many corners, so many decisions, and even when you get to the end you might still find yourself dropping through a hole.
It's a yes-or-no query, but the surrounding factors complicate the matter, especially considering that management's decision could be the difference between continued mediocrity and impending relevance.
They can't get this one wrong, they just can't.
As the calendar shifts from January to February, the NBA's trading deadline is no longer hidden. That deadline, Feb. 24, is like a floating neon sign over Iguodala's head.
Will they or won't they? Should they or shouldn't they? Can they or can't they?
Before we lay out the web of thoughts tangling each side of the debate, let's start with a hypothesis born from many phone calls, text messages, and research. Without this forthcoming hypothesis, there would be no need for discussion because Iguodala would be untradable. Under those circumstances, it would matter very little what the franchise did or did not want.
Our hypothesis? Iguodala is tradable.
Opportunities absolutely do exist for the Sixers to receive expiring contracts for Iguodala, although the level of "basketball value" the Sixers could find in return is probably uneven to the level of "basketball value" Iguodala possesses.
The discrepancy exists because of Iguodala's over-the-top contract, on which he is still owed approximately $44 million through the 2013-14 season.
Working forward from that hypothesis, Sixers fans must ask themselves: Do I want management to trade Iguodala for an expiring contract or player(s) who will likely be less talented? Am I prepared to give away a known asset for an unknown one?
If you've answered "Yes, it's time to trade Iguodala," then here's the reasoning: Iguodala may be a known quantity, but that known quantity has never proven capable of leading his team past the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Regardless of the value of return on a potential trade, whether the Sixers receive an expiring contract or a couple of similarly overrated players, the most important consideration is moving on from the "Iguodala era" and freeing the younger players - namely Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday, and Lou Williams - for their chance at leading this franchise.
Even if the Sixers have a shot at this season's playoffs, it's meaningless in the NBA to be the sixth, seventh, or eighth seed. The team would merely be delaying the inevitable: admitting they're not good enough to contend. Yes, trading Iguodala might make it more difficult for the team to earn one of the aforementioned playoff spots, but at this time the franchise can't concern itself with meaningless playoff appearances when faced with such a crucial decision.
A disconnect exists right now among Iguodala, the fans, and the franchise. He's ready for his ticket elsewhere. The fans are ready. The only party yet to realize this is Sixers management.
Make the trade. Make the best trade offered.
If you've answered "No, let's wait a second," then here's the reasoning: The Sixers look as if they're starting to figure things out and now is not the time to disrupt that rhythm.
Who knows what Doug Collins might be able to do with this roster? He's already exceeded expectations and has the team on a collision course with the playoffs. Losing Iguodala, especially for an expiring contract without on-court basketball value, would jeopardize what appears to be a jelling core of players.
Of course a lower playoff seed is not precisely where this franchise wants to be, but as long as Collins has things moving from bad to better, management should keep this roster intact.
The Sixers shouldn't want free-agent cap space, anyway. It's not as if the franchise can easily lure top-level talent away from other markets, so the end result might be a free-agent signing that is beneath what Iguodala already offers.
The Sixers should wait, be patient, and let Collins reassess at season's end.
Like we said, this question is tangled. The answer isn't easy.
But the decision, whatever it may be, is crucial.